Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Valentine's Day

A few pictures from our Valentine's Day adventures...

Hallie at her preschool Valentine's Day party.

Sorting through their Valentine's Day loot.

At the end of the day, we delivered Valentine treats to the kids' friends who aren't in their 
classes at school.  Instead of just dropping the treats in the mailboxes, Will snuck up to the 
doors, rang the doorbells, and sprinted back to the car so we could drive away before the 
friends found their surprises.  He wore his cape because it makes him run faster.

Making chocolate-covered strawberries and bananas.

Our annual Valentine's Day scavenger hunt.  Hallie is finally starting to understand 
what's going on, but she still has a hard time keeping up with Will.

Opening Valentine's Day gifts from AJ.

Yippee!  A new "teer-a"!

And since this post is going up on February 29th, I'd like to wish my Grandma Geri - a leap day baby - a happy 20th birthday!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


It's that time again..

Here's "February", sung - with very poor enunciation - by Miss Hallie Claire!

In case you have no idea what she said, here are the words:

February, February
Groundhog Day, Groundhog Day
Washington and Lincoln, Washington and Lincoln
Valentine's Day, Valentine's Day

It's December
It's November
It's October
It's September

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Few Cute Pics With Nowhere to Go

Looking every day of his five-and-almost-a-half years.

My "Pirate Princess".

A little sweetheart and her Knuffle Bunny.

My gal Hal's first successful trip to the top of the 
McDonald's indoor playscape.  

My boy Will must be going through a growth spurt - check out 
the three plates of food in front of him.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Birfday Parties!

Hallie's been invited to quite a few birthday parties lately, and let me tell you, it's tough to keep up! She's been having a blast, though, especially at the parties held at local gymnastics facilities. (Now that her collarbone is healed, Hallie has really enjoyed the loose gymnastics instruction provided by the facility staff supervising the parties.  I tried to get her into dance and/or gymnastics this year, but missed registration deadlines due to the timing of our move and the way the classes are structured.)

The parties have also been exceptionally fun for Hallie because she's gotten to go without Will.  I can tell she feels like a "big girl" when she attends birthday parties for her friends instead tagging along to birthday parties for Will's friends.

I've also realized how much simpler it is to take Hallie to a party than it is to take Will to a party.  Hallie can eat anything the host serves, including any kind of cake, which makes my job a heck of a lot easier than it is when I'm at a birthday party for Will and have to assess everything on his plate, scrape the frosting off the cake, and/or bring a different snack, meal, and/or dessert for him in case there isn't anything he can safely consume.  

On the flip side, when I take Will to parties I don't have to bring a spare pair of underwear and continuously ask him if he needs to go potty...

Here are a few pics of Hallie at two recent birthday parties - the first was for Matt and the second was for Caroline, both of whom just turned three.

Super excited for birfday parties!

Warming up on the mats.

Wrestling with Levi.  Hallie loves Levi and Levi loves Hallie.

Jumping over "french fries".

Climbing the rock wall.

Hiding from Zachary.

Rolling in the foam pit.

Jumping on the trampoline.

Watching Caroline blow out her candles.  
(Or watching Caroline watch her mom blow out her candles.)

Waiting patiently for her cake.

I've yet to decide what we're going to do cake-wise, theme-wise, or party-wise for Hallie's 3rd birthday (which is only two-and-a-half months from now!), but all of the parties we've been to recently have given me some good ideas...if I were a betting gal, I'd put my money on a Hello Kitty party at a gymnastics facility. We'll see!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Basketball Bonanza

Both Tom and I hesitated when Will asked us if he could play on a basketball team. Will's not very big, and to put it frankly, neither of us had seen any signs indicating that basketball was a sport at which Will excelled.

Now that basketball season is well underway - we're actually nearing the end of the season with only a couple of games and practices left on the schedule - both Tom and I know we were right to hesitate. Will's small stature, along with his intense fear of the ball and less-than-agressive style of play, have been significant challenges for him on the court. We also discovered that when Will's larger, more aggressive, and more skilled teammates dominate the game, he tends to "check out". (He doesn't actually leave the game - he stays in the game but doesn't pay any attention to what's going on around him.) During one particularly awful game about a third of the way through the season, Will could be found twirling in a circle on the opposite end of the court from where the play was happening.  I shared with Aunt Sara shortly after the game that it looked like Will was ice dancing instead of playing basketball.  I felt terribly for Will's awesome coaches, who, while trying so valiantly to motivate him, must have been extraordinarily frustrated. I certainly was, to the point that I actually told Tom I might not be able to attend any more basketball games.

After that awful game, Tom and I had a major sit-down with Will, during which we went over - in great detail - what we expected from him when it came to sports participation. We explained to Will that it didn't matter to us if he ever made a basket or even touched the ball. We did care, however, about effort. Will had made a commitment to his coaches and his team and HIMSELF, and we expected him to give 100% every single time he set foot on the court. He cried, but since he's kind of a crier I wondered whether or not we'd actually gotten through to him.

The following week I held my breath as Will took the court. But as play started, I was delighted to see that Will had listened the week before. He was no taller, no less afraid of the ball, and no more aggressive, but he tried as hard as he could that evening - he even touched the ball once. The next week, though still no taller and no less afraid of the ball, he started GOING FOR THE BALL and actually dribbled TWICE. Just like when Will finally rode his bike without training wheels, I nearly cried with pride.

Basketball will never be Will's sport, but he's now making the most of this experience and simultaneously making his parents proud.

Goofing off on the sideline.  (Ms. Amy is a teacher at Will's school - as well as the wife 
of Will's Brett-Favre-look-alike coach and the mom of one of the little boys on the team -
so when the boys started acting up on the sideline she "took care of it".  
I'm certain Will took her much more seriously than he would have taken me.)

Playing defense.  Will's specialties are throwing the ball in to a teammate after it's 
gone out of bounds and remembering to put his hands in the air when he's on defense.

At the ready.  See the wrist band he's wearing?  They use colored wrist bands to 
help the kids remember who on the other team they're guarding.  (One kid on each 
team wears a blue wrist band and they guard each other, one kid on each team wears 
a red wrist band and they guard each other, etc.  It works surprisingly well.)

Pretending like he might catch the rebound.  I say pretending because if the ball 
were to actually bounce off the backboard in Will's direction, one of two things would 
happen: either one of his taller teammates would catch it over his head or 
he would cover his face and duck.

More to come as the season bounces on!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Allergy Update #1,774

Dairy Diagnosis
Peanut Diagnosis
Allergy Update #1
Allergy Update #2
Allergy Update #3
Allergy Update #4

We were back at the allergist last Friday morning, assessing our progress after six months of participating in the cooked milk muffin trial. And I can use the words “we” and “our” because while Will actually ate the muffins, the trial impacted the day-to-day lives of everyone in our family.

From baking the muffins every few days (me), to encouraging/bribing/pleading with Will to eat his muffin every day (Tom and me), to listening to Will’s first complaints and then cries about how awful the muffins tasted (Hallie, Tom, and me), this eating extravaganza was no picnic.

For the record, the muffins tasted like cupcakes, but the fact that Will HAD to eat one every day made them less-than-desirable to his taste buds.

Our allergist was incredibly impressed that we only missed two days – Will’s birthday and one day when he was sick with a stomach bug – throughout the entire six months…apparently it’s pretty common for participants to skip muffins on a regular basis. (I’m not sure what part of “eat one muffin every day for six months” wouldn’t be clear, but that’s just me.)

The initial skin test showed a dramatic decrease in Will’s dairy allergy, and I beamed when the allergist attributed the change to us “doing the work”.

We moved on to the milk challenge, starting with a full teaspoon instead of with a ¼ teaspoon like we did last time. The challenge process is slow and tedious and a bit stressful – as I’ve mentioned previously, there’s nothing quite like watching your child eat/drink something dangerous to them and then just waiting to see what happens, Epi-pen at the ready – but regardless of the results (positive or negative), at least challenges provide information.

Will passed the teaspoon, or “level 1” (think Super Mario Bros. levels), as he called it, and only gagged once. While he likes the taste of chocolate milk, Will doesn’t like the way milk feels on the lining of his throat – this is pretty common with people who first drink milk as a child or adult instead of as an infant or toddler – and gags after he’s had a drink.

Will also passed the tablespoon and the ounce by “chasing” his milk with fruit punch. A lot of fruit punch. Three boxes of fruit punch. We went to the bathroom quite a few times during the four and a half hours we were in the allergist’s office.

Finally we moved on to the open, which meant Will drank as much milk as he wanted. It was at this point, when we’d actually almost made it to the end without a positive (positive = bad) reaction, that Will and I tentatively started to talk about cheeseburgers.

When I brought up the possibility of him getting to have a cheeseburger, he looked at me sadly and said, “Mama, I can’t have cheeseburgers. I’m allergic to dairy.”

Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were allergic to dairy. I wonder why we’ve been going to allergists for years and why we’ve been eating muffins for months and why we’re sitting in the allergist’s office right now shoving measureable and increasing quantities of milk down your throat? It’s like he’s never listened to anything I’ve ever said. (Insert apology for never listening to my mom here.)

With a chuckle I replied, “I know, Will, that’s why we’re here. If you pass this final level, it means you’re no longer allergic to dairy. It means the muffins worked.”

The switch flipped in his super huge brain and he excitedly told me that he was going to try his absolute hardest to pass this level so he could have a cheeseburger.

We all have dreams for our children – happiness, health, success, love. I of course want these things for my children as well, but that day, as I sat there in the allergist’s office, my only dream was for Will to get to eat a cheeseburger.

Will passed the open, and was declared “cured” of his dairy allergy. The news literally took my breath away, and as I thought back on the five and a half years that we have dealt with this particular allergy, it was all I could do not to break down in tears right there in the allergist’s office.

We’ve spent the last few days exposing Will to as many dairy products as possible. He enjoyed his cheeseburger and cheddar goldfish crackers, but was less-than-enthusiastic about macaroni and cheese, slices of Swiss and cheddar cheese, and ice cream. (Who doesn’t like macaroni and cheese and ice cream?! ) Pizza, yogurt, and bagels with cream cheese are next. I’ll probably gain a few pounds in the next week…

Will is a testament to the fact that the team at our College Station allergy clinic cares about more than simply diagnosing allergies and sending patients out the door with prescriptions for Epi-pens. They care about their patients’ – and their patients’ families’ – quality of life, and their mission is to improve it. Congratulations, Paull Allergy and Asthma Clinic…Mission Accomplished.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cooking Show

Over the course of the last year Will has developed an interest in baking and cooking. He's been helping me with breads, cakes, and cupcakes for a while now, but has recently started helping me scramble eggs and boil water for pasta as well.

Will usually rises from his nap/rest time around 4pm, and while Hallie sleeps for an additional half hour he and I often enjoy The Barefoot Contessa together.

Will has apparently combined his interest in baking and cooking with his interest in The Barefoot Contessa (or maybe he's channeling his inner Paula Dean?), because last night he asked me if I'd like to watch his cooking show.

In case you couldn't understand everything Will said in the video, let me break if down for you. Will started with a bowl of frosting. Yum. Then he added bologna, one scrambled egg, two raw eggs, and two tablespoons of butter. Yuck. Finally Will blended the ingredients thoroughly with his KitchenAid Stand Mixer and served the dish at room temperature with a spoon. "Wazah! Casa Rattan!"

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Through His Eyes

Once or twice a week I'll let Will take my phone to "nap" (rest time) with him. I like to play Angry Birds every once in a while (like when I travel and have nothing else to do), but I'm not very good and never score more than one star on each level. Will, on the other hand, is amazing (??), so I let him play Angry Birds on my phone as long as he promises to keep playing a particular level until he earns three stars. He gets to play Angry Birds and I get to look like I'm super good at Angry Birds without actually having to play the game myself. It's a win-win.

I discovered, however, that Will had branched out from playing Angry Birds to photography when I came across the photos below on my phone. They give a sweet glimpse into the world of a supposed-to-be-resting/napping-five-year-old.

At a later date - judging from the ceiling I think we were in a jewelry store at the mall - Will somehow coaxed Hallie into a shot as well.

A couple of weeks later I discovered that Will had learned how to take videos on my phone. I found 18 action figure sword fights on my phone - below are my three favorites.

Though Will ran the heck out of my phone battery, I greatly enjoyed this glimpse into his world.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Library Card

Will is now an official card-carrying member of the Bryan College Station Public Library System.  The process to actually obtain the library card was a long and stressful one (you can read about it here), but it was all worth it to see how proud Will was when we walked out of the library that evening.

I think Will may be more excited about having something to put in his wallet, however, than he is to check out books...

Congratulations, smart boy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I'll share more about and post more pictures of Will's basketball team in the weeks to come, but I had to post this picture from his first game right away.

Will is #5.

Could that little boy BE any shorter than his teammates?  I'm thinking about installing lifts in his shoes.  (J/K.)  Will tries SO hard, but we're not sure basketball is going to be his sport.